NOV 18, 2016 07:47 AM PST

Symbiosis: Mutualism, Commensalism, and Parasitism


Symbiotic relationships are interactions between species that can benefit either both or one of the species. There are three types of symbiosis: mutualism, where both species are benefited; commensalism, where one species benefits and the other is not harmed or helped; and parasitism, where one species benefits and the other is harmed.

One example of parasitism is ticks. Ticks feed off the blood of humans and animals, thus obtaining the nutrients to survive. However, not only are humans and animals freely donating their blood, but they also are often affected by diseases that the ticks spread.

An example of mutualism exists in the interactions between birds and cows: the birds eat the ticks that are feeding on the cows, thus cleaning the cows of an unwanted visitor whilst at the same time receiving nutrients.

Commensalism also is common is the natural world. One example of this could be a seed hitchhiking a ride on your shirt. The seed therefore is able to extend its dispersal zone, but (so long as your shirt doesn't tear!) you are not impacted by the seed's existence.

What other symbiotic relationships can you think of?
About the Author
  • Kathryn is a curious world-traveller interested in the intersection between nature, culture, history, and people. She has worked for environmental education non-profits and is a Spanish/English interpreter.
You May Also Like
NOV 19, 2019
Cardiology
NOV 19, 2019
New Study Sheds Lights On Fat Formation
At normal levels, white fat tissue is known as the body's energy storage unit. When this type of tissue over accumulates, it begins to disrupt several ...
NOV 19, 2019
Plants & Animals
NOV 19, 2019
How a Venus Flytrap Works
Most people think of plants as being at the bottom of the food chain, but the Venus Flytrap defies this oversimplified way of thinking by devouring meat. W...
NOV 19, 2019
Plants & Animals
NOV 19, 2019
These Birds Mate for Life
Meet the Picathartes, a bird species that resides in the Congo and has done such for more than 44 million years. These birds mate for life, and in order fo...
NOV 19, 2019
Cardiology
NOV 19, 2019
Find the Motivation to Exercise with Imagery
Those involved in professional sports have a lot on their plate. From fitting in intense regular workouts to getting adequate sleep, to eating a healthy di...
NOV 19, 2019
Plants & Animals
NOV 19, 2019
Everything You Didn't Know About Hyenas
The humble hyena is often depicted as dim-witted, but as the scientific facts would show, that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Despite the negati...
NOV 19, 2019
Health & Medicine
NOV 19, 2019
Antibiotic Resistance by the Numbers
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) just released its latest Antibiotic Threats in the United States report, which is summarized in the vi...
Loading Comments...